Gov. Nathan Deal just appointed five new judges, and they’re all white.
The day after the election, Deal’s office announced three new state Supreme Court Justices and two new judges to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Five out of five of these appointments are white folks, and four out of five are white men.
The governor’s lack of interest in diverse leadership is disturbing and disheartening. Georgia is rapidly on track to become a “majority minority” state in the next decade, and our judicial system should be well on it’s way to reflecting that.
However, as a group called Advocacy for Action — which seeks to create a more diverse and representative judiciary — has noted, Deal (as well as his predecessor Gov. Sonny Perdue) seemed to have little interest in the judicial talents of women and people of color.
The group notes that from 2003 – 2015 (covering both Gov. Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal’s appointments), people of color only received four percent of 73 Superior Court judgeships. Four. Percent.
Deal likewise has had trouble promoting talented women. By the end of last year, Deal appointed women to just a little more than 20 percent of all judgeships during his time as governor.
“For a state as diverse as Georgia — the population is now close to 30 percent African-American — to continue to have opportunities like this to continue the ethnic diversification of the court, and not take them is just not good for the institution,” retired Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears told The Daily Report. “It doesn’t engender public confidence in our courts.”
Sears remains the only African-American woman to serve as a justice. She was appointed by Gov. Zell Miller back in 1992.
Deal got to add three white people to the Supreme Court because the state legislature passed a law earlier this year expanding the state Supreme Court from seven to nine judges, giving the governor more Supreme Court positions to fill. One Supreme Court Justice also recently retired. So, there you have it, Deal just appointed three of the nine state Supreme Court Justices in one fell swoop.
Mind you, this is the same Gov. Deal who thinks it’s okay to use the phrase “colored people” when he’s angry about his school takeover plan failing. Deal’s also upset about a group of people he calls “ghetto grandmothers,” says he doesn’t know where Pres. Obama was born and brags about fighting against the extension of the Voting Rights Act.
Advocacy for Action has also documented a pattern of experienced minority judges being passed over for appointments, in favor of unexperienced white lawyers.
In an interview with The Daily Report, Deal asked the reporter, “Is racial diversity more important than excellence?”
Unfortunately, it does not appear that “excellence” is a deciding factor in anything related to Deal’s administration.